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Last Updated on November 6, 2023

Is Sleeping With Earplugs Good?

image of our writer Filip Maric

Written By Filip

Sleep Advisor

Featured image for Sleeping with earplugs
Ah, that beautiful sound of silence! You snuggle into bed, put in a pair of earplugs, and drift off to dreamland… but wait a second. Is sleeping with earplugs actually good for you?

First and foremost, a quiet environment is necessary for quality sleep. If you use earplugs for this purpose, be aware of the pros and cons of your nightly habit. We know it is very difficult to fall asleep when you are a light sleeper.

It's especially challenging if you travel a lot. There is always the fear of noise and bad hotels. So, anxiety is often part of this problem. That's why earplugs can be a real lifesaver!

Whether it's the neighbor's dog barking or your partner snoring, they block out all sounds. However, there are some potential downsides to regular sleeping with earplugs. In fact, there is a risk of serious health problems.

So, let's find out what is hidden behind this curious bedtime habit!

The benefits of sleeping with earplugs

Earplugs are usually safe to use while sleeping. You may feel discomfort initially, but this will go away over time. You will experience the following benefits if you are comfortable sleeping with them.

Improved sleep quality and quantity

An image of a woman putting an earplug in

We've all had a bad night's sleep at least once because of noise. However, you can disrupt the natural sleep pattern in the long run. Fortunately, earplugs are a form of sound barrier.

Combining them with an eye mask can improve the REM stage (deep sleep). In it, the brain performs important processes such as memory consolidation. Wearing earplugs can also have a positive effect on circadian rhythms. How?

Well, you've probably heard of the “internal clock.” It manages the complex physiological processes associated with daily sleep cycles, wakefulness, and activity during the day.

Ear plugs will help you establish your sleeping routine and prevent sleep deprivation. This means you will maintain healthy sleep hygiene, which automatically means better quality and longer sleep.

Reduced noise disruptions & decreased stress levels

“Daily life brings a lot of stress” – when we say that, we usually talk about work or the news we hear on TV. But it could be anything. For example, a baby crying in the neighborhood can unintentionally ruin your day (or sleep).

In most cases, we cannot prevent noise. And that's okay. That's why there are earplugs! In order not to endanger your health nor cause poor sleep, it is necessary to protect your ears.

Especially when it comes to a more intense sound than a baby's cry, like construction equipment. It can literally drive you crazy! In those moments, it seems like there is no end (often, there isn't).

If this lasts long, the next stage is sleep disturbance. Then you are prone to anxiety and depression. This affects every segment of life. Earplugs are one way to protect your health and well-being.

Prevention of hearing damage

Now, let's explain how they block or muffle sound waves. Every sound travels from the ear canal, eardrum, through the inner ear to the brain. Loud sounds damage the cells in the inner ear. This can lead to temporary hearing loss or other auditory problems and that's why sometimes you just have to wear earplugs.

Thanks to the insulating material of the earplugs, the sound will be blocked before it reaches the eardrum. Therefore, they are a physical barrier between the ear canal and the outside environment. That barrier can be made of foam, silicone, or plastic.


Frequent use can lead to the accumulation of earwax (cerumen). Although it has a protective function for the middle ear, it can also cause problems.

If cerumen is not removed and accumulates, it can cause discomfort. However, this is not the only drawback.

Discomfort and irritation

An image of a woman holding two thumbs down

Have your ears hurt at least once after hours of wearing earphones? Well, it's the same with earplugs (maybe even worse). During sleep, you turn several times, so displacement is likely, especially if you didn't choose the right size or shape.

Painful sensations are associated with excessive pressure of the earplugs on the auricle. They can also be associated with the wrong type of material. Therefore, use only those intended for use during the night.

Some people have very narrow ear canals, which makes finding earplugs almost impossible. If you are also persistently trying, but have no success, maybe you should give up. There are other ways to reduce noise, but we'll talk about that later.

Plus, there's no surefire way, that we know of, that you can completely secure your earplugs. So, you're always just banking on the fact that they won't fall out or lodge in at an awkward angle. Admittedly, you're unlikely to be in any danger but it can make sleep a bit uncomfortable.

Increased risk of ear infections

We are all different. Each organism works differently and defensive systems are no different. The habits of individuals also influence the production of wax. Due to irregular cleaning of earplugs or use for an extended period, moisture and bacteria appear.

Dust, stains, or plant pollen can also accumulate. Then, these particles begin to accumulate in the ear canal. That is not all. Each time you adjust the earplugs, you move them deeper and deeper.

In this way, the conditions for the growth of bacteria are created, which leads to serious health problems with the ears. Therefore, use disposable suppositories or longer-lasting foam that you will maintain according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Difficulty waking up to important sounds

Our brain needs silence for quality sleep. However, complete soundproofing is not the best solution. It can be a double-edged sword. How? For example, ignoring alarms, sirens, or other warning signals can put you in danger.

That's why knowing how much noise reduction you need is essential. Lucky for you, there are a variety of models to suit everyone's needs.

Dependency on earplugs

Addiction can occur if you have been using earplugs while sleeping for a long time. It's simple. Your ear has become accustomed to such conditions, which means that any change will make it difficult to fall asleep.

For example, some people get used to noise and sleep like that. Therefore, our organisms can often adapt.

How to Choose the Right Earplugs for Sleep?

We have a solution if you are equally tired of the noise and searching for the right earplugs. Maybe this sounds like TV shop commercials, but don't worry – we're not like that.

You won't read about the best product ever because it doesn't exist. You have to find it yourself by considering your needs and the characteristics of different earplugs. That's where we come in.

We will draw your attention to the main factors. The noise problem is a real thing. So don't wait; let's fix it!

Different types of earplugs

An image of a man thinking about something

So, while researching different types, you should focus on prices, materials, and design. Desirable characteristics of earplugs for sleeping are comfort, ease of use, and noise reduction rating (NRR). To help you know what's right for you, consider the following types of earplugs:

  • Foam earplugs – they are soft, comfortable, adjustable, and disposable
  • Silicone earplugs – reusable and made of soft, flexible material and recommended for side-sleepers
  • Wax earplugs – they provide good noise reduction, are comfortable and disposable
  • Flanged earplugs – they are made of multiple layers of flanges that create a seal in the ear canal, reusable
  • White noise earplugs – have different sound settings that mask and reduce external sounds by producing a constant, soothing sound
  • Custom earplugs – recommended for sensitive ears, can be expensive but provide the best fit and highest level of noise reduction.

Tip: Consult a healthcare professional if you have any concerns or questions.

Factors to consider when buying

An image of a man considering something

Do you spend the whole night trying to find the ideal sleep position? Maybe your real problem is unsuitable pair of earplugs. To finally get some peaceful shut-eye, take the following steps.

  1. Check the price – the cheapest option is expandable foam earplugs, but prices can go up to $100. Invest in a quality model if you plan to use them every night.
  2. Differentiate between reusable and single-use labels – plan how you will use the earplugs; for example, if you are going on a short trip, take a one-time use like the foam type
  3. Consider the materials – keep in mind any sensitivities or allergies while choosing the material
  4. Check the level of noise reduction – consider the level of noise in your environment and choose earplugs that provide enough noise reduction
  5. Assess the level of comfort – certain models can cause pain, which leads to bad sleep

After that, you will reduce the risk of health problems, as well as discomfort during sleep.

Tips for using earplugs safely and effectively

The previous tips were mostly about buying earplugs. But that is not enough to choose the right model. It is equally important that you use it safely and effectively. How to do it? For starters, you don't want to get an ear infection. So, wash your hands before inserting earplugs into your ears.

Then, follow the instructions for use. When inserting earplugs, do it gently and slowly. Also, hold it in place until it expands to create a seal. Careful! Do not insert too deeply into the ear canal.

Finally, remove it slowly and steadily. Remember, never share them with anyone, even if they are reusable. Otherwise, you will exchange bacteria and other germs, which is a direct path to infection.

Tip: Use earplugs for extended periods or for specific purposes.


Tired of trying to fit earplugs in your ears but they keep disobeying? We feel you. That process is mostly inconvenient at the beginning and annoying. Unfortunately, many people never find the right type for them. But don't worry because there are alternatives out there.

White noise machines

White noise is a term that denotes a mixture of sounds of a certain frequency and repetition; the range of frequencies and ambient noise is from 20Hz to 20,000Hz. Different settings allow you to play soothing sounds for children, adults and even pets.

So, this is a safe device that will please even children's ears. Because white noise contains all frequencies, it is often used to “mask” other sounds. You can also use a fan instead of a white noise machine. They have almost the same sound. However, good white noise machines typically come with more functions than just the sound itself. So, they're definitely worth checking out.

Soundproofing a room

An image of a microphone with a feather atop it

Different types of materials such as acoustic foam, soundproof curtains or carpet absorb sound waves. Think about sealing gaps and cracks. Even a small amount of material (on windows, doors or walls) can be adequate.

Then, sound barriers such as mass-loaded vinyl, acoustic panels or drywall are often used. Last but not least are soundproof doors and windows. It is definitely a good investment, because it allows a high level of isolation.

And for people that want to solve the issue of noise at its source, this is likely the best option. After all, earplugs can fall out or get lost. While if you just soundproof your bedroom, you're going to have consistent peace and quiet.

So, if you have noisy neighbours, this could be the most optimal choice. Even something as simple as putting in a thick rug or moving the shelves so that they're between you and the wall where the noise is coming from can do wonders.

Ear muffs

This type of hearing protection device can be made of plastic, metal or foam. It's also adjustable, which means you'll find the right size.

However, it is quite different from earplugs in design. Ear muffs are two ear cups connected to a headband or strap. They are much easier to take off and put on.

This makes them a great choice for those who need a quick fix. Before buying, consider your sleeping position and the type of material.

Tip: If you want more significant noise reduction, use them in combination with earplugs.


To sum it up, earplugs can be the right solution for a peaceful night's sleep, especially for light sleepers who often struggle with disrupted sleep. BUT, that doesn't mean you should ignore some potential drawbacks.

Therefore, you may experience discomfort, ear infections, or over-dependence. Don't forget, people who sleep with their earplugs every night are at the greatest risk. If you are in doubt, just choose one of the suggested alternatives.

However, properly maintaining your earplugs and using them can improve sleep quality and reduce stress and anxiety. Well, it is equally important to choose the right type according to your needs.

Therefore, weigh the potential benefits and risks. Then, make the decision that's right for you! And feel free to tell us in the comments what you think about sleeping with earplugs and whether you do it.

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